Can Newt take the country when all of his one-time Beltway allies are pounding him with arrow, cannon and missiles from their permanent encampment on the Potomac?
It is one thing to take on the vast legions of Romnians spread out across every primary state, but the really dangerous stuff to Newt is coming from behind.
It isn’t clear who played Casca in this D.C. drama. George Will and Charles Krauthammer, the two heaviest pieces of artillery in the conservative print arsenal fired at the former Speaker at roughly at the same time. Doc Tom Coburn, the rock-ribbed conservative senator from Oklahoma got deep into Beltway lines –a Sunday show—before getting a knife into Newt. Cassius has to be Ann Coulter, whose column displayed the restraint for which she is known, and she has the lean look down.
Mark Steyn, the noblest conservative of them all because he lives in the Live Free or Die State and because his new best-seller "After America" is so unsparing, plays the role of Brutus in tonight’s performance. He delivered a searing estimate of Newt on my show. Steyn has no brief against Newt going back to the ‘90s. “He, only in a general honest thought, And common good to all, made one of them.”
With more arrows in him than the proverbial Custer, the question now is whether Newt can merely stagger on a few more hours in the manner of the villain Joey Graza from Larry McMurty’s Streets of Laredo who, after being riddle with lead shotgun pellets by Captain Call’s second-in-command Peaeye, still managed considerable more mayhem until a butcher brought him down, or whether, like the first Terminator, Newt takes licking and licking and just keeps tickin’ after reassembling his parts. (The Terminator came from the future to save the present; Newt sees himself as sailing out of the past to save the future.)
On yesterday’s radio program Peter Wehner, one of the wiser heads in D.C., wondered aloud with me on how difficult it is to judge political conversion stories --the “new” Newt v. “old” Newt narrative, Catholic edition. Those old enough to have lived through the new/old Nixon debate aren’t interested enough to weigh in –well, there is Al Hunt—and in the 45 years since a disgraced and beaten pol mounted a comeback via the presidency has seen everything change in terms of rules and technology.
If Newt makes it to 1600, he will have material for three or four Enemies Lists.
Rick Santorum, also a guest on Wednesday’s program –transcript here—is restrained when it comes to talking about Newt, as is Romney. Newt has been unfailingly gracious towards his competitors, and they to he, and this has been a good thing for all concerned. The jabs will pick up and the elbows get sharper now, but Newt’s real opponents aren’t on the stage.
They are from battles fought decades ago in a town where memory is a bar stool away in the form of anyone who didn’t get what they came for, didn’t make the deal, didn’t get the job or the glory.
If you spend your life in Washington, D.C., the old saying goes, and you want a friend, get a dog. The friends of Newt Gingrich have just begun to embrace two other old sayings: “Revenge is a dish best served cold,” and “Paybacks are hell.”
What these old opponents don’t yet seem to grasp is that every attack from within the gates establishes Newt’s “outsider” credibility. To the battalions and brigades of Tea Partiers watching must occur the question: “If the D.C. elite loathes him so much, shouldn’t we be for him?”